Bills to ban governmental entity mask and vaccine mandates move to Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk

House Bills 2616 and 2498, concerning mandates on masking for minors and COVID-19 vaccination for state employees respectively, both passed their Third Read on the Senate Floor this week.

 

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HB 2616, introduced by Rep. Joseph Chaplik (R–Scottsdale), would prohibit any school district or governmental entity of the state from requiring masks to be worn by minors without parental consent.

“Parents should have the right to be making medical decisions for their children. Masks are medical devices,” Chaplik said at a House Government & Elections Committee meeting on Feb. 9. 

In the bill’s Third Read on the Senate Floor on Monday, Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R–Scottsdale) noted her support for the bill, but said its language does not go far enough. 

“This bill does not have any penalty attached to it … The public is going to be left with the impression that we’ve provided them a protection, and we haven’t,” Ugenti-Rita said. “The schools will simply ignore what’s in this bill. I think we have an opportunity as a Republican-held majority here in the Senate and the House … to do something that actually stops this kind of overreach at the schools.”

She went on to say that it was important for the bill’s language to include schools on reservations so as to not leave any children out.

“I think all kids across the state of Arizona should have the same protections, and this bill doesn’t do it.”

She suggested a trailer bill to give the original bill more “teeth.” 

HB 2498, introduced by Rep. Jake Hoffman (R–Queen Creek), would prohibit any governmental entity of the state from requiring a COVID-19 vaccination from an employee. 

“The government has no right to tell an individual citizen that they must inject themselves with a vaccine,” Hoffman said in a House Government & Elections Committee meeting on Feb. 2. “The government’s job is not to nanny us, and not to force us into certain health behavior choices … Where’s the mandated chemo for cancer patients? Where’s the mandated care for any issue? People have agency over their own bodies, over their own lives, and over their own personal choices.” 

Both bills passed in a 16-12 vote on the Senate Floor, and now await Gov. Doug Ducey’s signature.